CSKA again deny racism issue
CSKA again deny racism issue
CSKA Moscow continue to insist the racial abuse suffered by Manchester City's Yaya Toure in the Russian capital a fortnight ago was exaggerated.
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CSKA must play their next Champions League home game at a partially closed stadium after UEFA found their supporters guilty of directing monkey taunts at the City midfielder when the clubs met at the Arena Khimki.
The Russian club vehemently denied that any racist chanting took place and, even though they have accepted UEFA's verdict, there is still a reluctance to admit it occurred.
Manager Leonid Slutsky and defender Sergei Ignashevich were repeatedly asked about the matter by journalists at a press conference to preview this week's return match at the Etihad Stadium.
Slutsky said: "We have already spoken about our official position. "It is normal, like many people, we are against racism.
"In our team we have black players. We love them and give them our support.
"As for the match, we did not hear any racial slurs, so it is difficult to comment.
"What I can say is the club is categorically against racism. We think the situation has been exaggerated and there was an over-reaction.
"We have received our punishment, and it was up to UEFA to make this decision."
A club official tried on a number of occasions to steer questions away from the racism issue at an increasingly fractious media conference but they continued to recur.
Slutsky was asked if the club would make a personal apology to Toure but would not comment.
He said: "I think we have discussed this matter enough already."
Another question was pushed away with a response of: "The sooner we finish this matter the better. It has been discussed over and over again and brings unhealthy speculation."
When asked if the club were concerned about a repeat offence from supporters at Eastlands, media director Sergei Aksenov interrupted to say: "Let us wait for them to repeat it and then feel sorry for that."
Defender Ignashevich was also questioned on the matter, which has resulted in part of the Arena Khimki being closed for the visit of Bayern Munich on November 27.
The 34-year-old said: "We are sorry that some of our fans won't be at this game but at the moment we are thinking about the game."
But when asked further he said: "We are sorry that such an unpleasant incident took place."
Earlier in the day City manager Manuel Pellegrini had said the Russian supporters made a big mistake and expressed hope that lessons would be learned.
At the time, Toure was so upset about the abuse that he suggested players could boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia if such incidences were not stamped out.
Pellegrini said: "The fans of CSKA made an important mistake.
"The club, I don't know why they denied it at the beginning or what their reaction is now but UEFA acted and gave them the punishment they deserve.
"I hope we can leave it in the past and it will be an example for Russian fans because they have a World Cup in their country."
Defender Pablo Zabaleta, who was sitting alongside Pellegrini at his pre-match press conference, said he wanted UEFA to maintain a strong stance.
He said: "Obviously what happened in Moscow was really hard for Yaya.
"We are all behind him and any time we see something like that we try to help the players.
"Hopefully UEFA is always on it. As players we can do nothing, we just need to give a massive support to the black players when they have some problems like that."
Pellegrini had no concerns about Toure's state of mind heading into the Group D fixture, in which City will bid to clinch a place in the last 16.
He said: "I think Yaya is an experienced player.
"What happened in Russia, maybe he can't forget, but tomorrow is a special match for him, not because of that but because Manchester City can go to the next stage of the Champions League.
"I think he will only be thinking about football."
Toure has called on City fans to rise above the issue and give CSKA a warm welcome in Manchester.
The Ivory Coast international tweeted: "Tomorrow I want fans to show our guests how welcoming citizens are. Lets show the world why our sky is blue i know i can count on u."
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